Suzanne Richardson

after we broke up there
wasn’t anything left of him except his Netflix account. He packed his
belongings into a moving truck, and sold a bunch of stuff on Craigslist before
I could say, but I love you, you Bastard. The couch was the last thing
to sell. It sat up there on the “For Sale” link under “furniture” for what
seemed like forever and the price kept going down. Antique Toile Couch for
I would check on it every so often, thinking of all the times we
fucked on that couch, all the times we made love, all the times I went down on
him, digging his thighs with my nails. Then it was, Antique Toile Couch good
shape $75
. Then it was fifty bucks and then it was gone. That’s the kind of
thing I could really dwell on, the idea of some other people sitting on our
couch having a more functional relationship than us, having better sex than us.
So, I went home after work and sat at my computer, and thought to zone out with
some random movie. That’s when I realized he hadn’t logged out of his Netflix
account the last time we’d streamed a movie in bed.

Maybe it’s because my father was a Lawrence
of Arabia
, Spaghetti Western kind of guy, that’s the reason I fell for the
Nouvelle Vague guy. My mother is more of a British Period Romance With A Strong
Female Lead kind of person, and maybe that’s how my parents work together. My
father was the cowboy, getting the herd through a big river, and my mother, the
Jane Austen heroine, bodiced up, tightly sipping teas and corner-gossiping. I
wanted something different, something more modern.

I met him at a film screening in
SOHO. I had just broken up with a Charlie Chaplin freak who liked feet and
silent movies. I decided to take in some French film and found myself at a
midnight showing of Agnès Varda’s 1962 film Cléo de 5 à 7. From the
moment the opening credits started, I knew (much like Cleo who receives a
terrible tarot reading) that I was doomed. The guy next to me kept brushing my
knee as I sipped my coke. Cleo’s reading told of a life of struggle, no
marriage, only death. I suspected some sort of oblivion was coming over me when
he asked for my number on the steps of the theatre. It was his first French
film too, he admitted, and we should watch more, maybe together. So we watched
them all, François Truffaut, Éric Rohmer, Claude Chabrol, Jacques Rivette,
Agnès Varda, Jacques Demy, and of course, my favorite, Jean‐Luc Godard. Sometimes
we stayed up all night watching, rolling up late to our jobs in the morning
with our eyes bloodshot and swollen with Anna Karina, Jean Seberg, and Jeanne
Moreau. I thought we might get married, maybe move to France. I thought, at the
very least, we could carry on like a Truffaut film forever. Long extended shots
and glances back and forth with cryptic, hopeless dialogue. Even if things got
complicated, like in Jules et Jim, we could ward off one another’s
hatred by finding a third person to both love, or we could find some tragic
Greek allusion that would pattern our fate, like a Cocteau film.

I found it comforting at first that
I could see what he was watching. All the French films I had ordered on his
Netflix were lined up like ducks, and he was keeping on track, even rating them
1‐5 stars as he saw fit. I approved of his new additions to our
list. I didn’t dare log out of his account, so I opened my own Netflix on my
work computer, and started mirroring some of his picks. I was hoping we were
even watching them on the same nights. We often had the same ratings.

Months passed like that, but I knew
he was seeing someone when his taste in film changed. It seemed overnight, he
went from Nouvelle Vague to Emotional Foreign Docu‐Dramas, then
without warning it was suddenly Cerebral Conspiracy Documentary. I was
appalled, so I watched Cocteau’s 1950 film Orphée streaming on his
account every night as I fell asleep to try to get his attention. I hoped he
would see the symbolism of a poet who can’t decide between two women, one being
death, (of course I imagined his current girlfriend as death and myself as the
wife who gets killed early on.) At the very least, I hoped he’d remember how
we’d watched it together on a Sunday while drinking Kir Royales after burning
heart shaped waffles. I mean, the plan was pretty convoluted, pathetic even,
but I had to try in my own small way. Surely he would have noticed it was
always a “recent watch” but there was no call, no email. So when his whole list
changed, and there was no sign of the Nouvelle Vague, no directors even from
early 70s French films on his queue, I took drastic measures. I drank a bottle
of skanky Sav Blanc, and at 3am I erased his entire queue and put only Godard’s
1965 film Pierrot Le Fou. I had to send him a real message, you know?
After that, his account went dead.

Years later I saw him at birthday
party with a ring on his finger. I was seeing someone else by then, a guy who
liked Visually Stunning Dark Sci‐Fi Fantasy
films, someone who was probably better suited for me and my Violent Cult
Supernatural film propensity. I stumbled by my Nouvelle Vague, knowing full
well that he had become an Emotional Crime TV Show lover, and a chronic Father‐Son Drama
Based on a Book watcher right before he cut me off. I wanted to ask him about
the girl who had changed him into a Cerebral Conspiracy Documentary person for
a spell. I wanted to know if he’d married her. I wanted to know if he’d gotten
my Godard message and that’s why his account went dead. But I didn’t say anything
when I walked by, that’s how strange we were to each other. Like characters in
Bresson’s Pickpocket, we had fondled one another momentarily,
gotten what we wanted, and left. Sad really.

The Nouvelle Vague, or “New Wave,”
French film lasted about seven years, from 1958 to 1965. My relationship with
my Nouvelle Vague lasted about that long. A lot can happen in seven years, you
can grow together in ways that reshape your concept of self. You can change the
face of French film by being politically and socially self‐conscious,
or by breaking away from classical tropes and narrative.

Does anyone ever stay with their Nouvelle Vague? That person who, no matter
what the lighting, always looks like they belong in a 60s French film? That
person who makes your heart black and white like the streets of Paris? Director
Jean Luc Godard married his actress and muse Anna Karina. Their
relationship lasted seven years. In a 1967 interview, after their divorce, both
Godard and Karina were asked if it’s possible to be happy after such an intense
relationship. Karina responded: Yes, one can be happy, but in a different
Godard responded: No, I believe one can be much happier. Karina
then excused herself from the interview to cry.

The last ten minutes of Godard’s
1965 film Pierrot Le Fou show Ferdinand (Jean‐Paul
Belmondo) shooting and murdering his lover Marianne (Anna Karina) and her new
lover. Belmondo then paints his face blue while standing on an ocean cliff
looking over the Mediterranean. He wraps his head in two layers of dynamite and
lights the fuse A quick camera pan-out shows his hands struggling suddenly to
tamp out the fire: he’s made a mistake, he doesn’t want to die, but the fire
snakes up the fuses, whipping them back and forth like a ribbon in the wind.
Before you know it, the camera is one cliff over watching Belmondo explode. More
smoke than you’d expect pours off that cliff, but that’s love: something
burned; there are no survivors—the end. For a long time I didn’t understand
that, I thought there was more to it; but now I see that love is a moment; and
it makes for a pretty bad movie, if you ask me.

Suzanne Richardson was born and raised in Durham, North Carolina, where she received an alternative education at Carolina Friends School K-12. She then graduated from Bard College in 2005 with a degree in English and Creative Writing. Suzanne currently lives in Albuquerque, New Mexico, where she is an MFA candidate at the University of New Mexico, teaching English and creative writing. Suzanne has been editor-in-chief of Blue Mesa Review since 2010. Her nonfiction is forthcoming in New Ohio Review, issue 11. Her poetry has appeared in Blood Orange Review, and is forthcoming The Smoking Poet, as well as PANK Magazine.

“When I think of my back porch I think of our family dogs. I have vivid memories of our cocker spaniels sunning themselves, or snoozing in their bed baskets. I used to sit on the steps and pick fleas off of their pink bellies after school. In summer, I sat on the steps and ate popsicles, afraid of the possibility that copperheads might jump out of the ivy and azaleas, slink across the step stones and bite my ankles.”